London based Dram and Smoke have popped up in the Biscuit Factory in Leith for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. The idea is a simple one where a disused building is transformed into a hip and happening restaurant for a few weeks. For a fixed price of £40 per person you get a welcome cocktail, the best of Scottish produce over four courses and whole lot of music and fun.
We went along last week not knowing what to expect and there was a real sense of anticipation as we followed the little grouse’s footprints through the disused factory corridors leading us to the scene of flumgummery.
As we entered the cocktail area there was a real buzz around the seating plan blackboard with everyone trying to work out where and who they were sitting with. Communal seating is the norm but you can request to be seated next to your friends if you have booked separately. Part of the experience is the fun of meeting lots of new people as you share the communal food on offer just like you would over a leisurely Sunday lunch. At 7.30pm prompt we were directed up the stair where the dining commenced.
A lot of effort has gone into making this venue work as a restaurant space and it feels a lot more permanent than it should. The tables look welcoming with mis-matched crockery, twinkling lights and a couple of house bricks in the middle of the table.
As everyone found their tables and introductions were made, a big board with our smoked ham hock and haggis terrine, pickles and crispy capers was delivered on top of the two house bricks. The serving slice was passed to one of our table to do the honours and we all got stuck in. The accompanying warm tattie scones were served in a basket and these got passed around the table as well. It was a satisfying starter with lots of different textures and flavours although consensus at the table was that the haggis could have been a bit bolder.
Next on the menu was pearl barley risotto with John Vallance spoots (Razor Clams), Scottish chorizo and mushrooms although we both decided to have the vegetarian option. The spoots and chorizo were substituted with summer squash, mushrooms, asparagus and crowdie. The dish was light and fresh tasting with the nutty barley giving a nice bite.
The music and chatter was getting steadily louder and looser as a huge slab of tender Peelham Farm braised beef brisket was delivered for each table to carve up and serve. Thankfully we had a safe pair of hands at our table and Gav made light work of the carving, making sure we didn’t go hungry. There was a plentiful supply of tasty Hasselback tatties with smoked garlic butter, chargrilled leeks with cheddar and a large dish of green bean and celeriac slaw. The vibrant green sauce was made from beef juices, green beans, parsley and garlic and was a nice fresh twist on traditional gravy. There was also the option of adding your own grating of fresh horseradish which was a nice touch.
Next up on the bricks was a slate of Heather Hills honeycomb complete with a hammer to go with the individual pots of rhubarb and custard with a sprinkling of sweet cicely foraged by Ben and his dog. We all wanted a shot of the hammer and we escaped unscathed from the flying shards of heather honeycomb that flew across the table.
We enjoyed the food, the company and the lively atmosphere at Dram and Smoke and if you’re quick, there are still a few tickets to be had before the end of the festival. The music and bar continue well into the evening making for a very relaxing festival night out.
The Biscuit Factory (side entrance), 4-6 Anderson Place, EH6 5NP